What are some mindfulness exercises to improve our awareness?

Strengthening our mindfulness muscle positively affects both our physical and psychological health. Here are 5 mindfulness exercises you can practice any time of the day to bring yourself to the present, ease your mind and beat anxiety.

You can find more on mindfulness and its benefits here.

1. Breath awareness

  • ● Sit in a comfortable position.
    ● Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
    ● Pay attention to the movement of the breath in your body.
    ● Be aware of every sensation, emotion and thought that arises without judgment.
    ● Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
    ● Counting your inhalations and exhalations can help you keep your focus on the breath.

2. Body Scan

  • ● Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
    ● Direct your attention to your body and the physical sensations.
    ● Become aware of how your clothes feel against your skin.
    ● Try to feel heavy wherever you are sitting or lying.
    ● Scan your body from head to toe and become aware of the sensations in each area.
    ● Remember to focus on your breath as you scan your body.

3. Mindful smelling

  • ● For this exercise, you can analyse the smells you encounter anytime, anywhere. Or you can choose to smell something specific, such as a piece of fruit, some spices or flowers.
    ● Start by taking a few deep breaths through your nose. Focus on the air in and out through the nose.
    ● Do you smell anything? Become aware of the smells you take in.
    ● Try to define the quality of the smells and how they make you feel.
    ● When you slow yourself down, you’ll be able to recognize more smells than you normally do.

4. 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique

  • ● Sit comfortably and take a couple of calm, deep breaths.
    ● Name 5 things you see around you. Pay attention to details such as the reflection of light, the folds of the curtain, the drops of water on the leaves.
    ● Name 4 things you feel. The wind blowing through your hair, the sun warming your shoulders, or the smoothness of the glass in front of you.
    ● Name 3 things you hear. Listen for the crowing of the birds, the creaking of a wooden door, the neighbours’ conversation.
    ● Name 2 things you smell. Focus on the scent of freshly mown grass, flowers in the garden, or cookies fresh from the oven.
    ● Name 1 thing you taste. Bring your attention to the sensations in your mouth from the coffee you just had or some candy you ate.

5. Gratitude exercise

  • ● Sit in a comfortable position.
    ● Close your eyes and take a few calm and deep breaths.
    ● Think about the things you are grateful for, especially things you tend to take for granted.
    ● Take your time to enjoy this moment and let the feeling of gratitude wash over you.
    ● Say “I am grateful for...” out loud to end the exercise.